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Stwve

Working lines vs show lines

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Stwve   

Hi All,

I am brand new to this forum and am very interested in hearing some thoughts on breeding dogs to win confirmation at shows vs breeding for working ability.

 

This question comes because I have two or three minds about the situation. On one hand, keeping to the breed standards for confirmation are very important to keep the breed from losing important physical characteristics. On the other hand, I put a very high importance on a dogs ability to do the job they are meant to do. On the third hand,  most dogs are going into pet homes so working ability may not be of the highest priority.

For me as a trainer, it is quite obvious in the working world that 'show' dogs are very often not capable of performing thier working roles, and in fact may have serious medical defects, even though they are winning at the shows. Therefore, just because a dog wins at a show, doesn't mean it is an exceptional representation of the breed overall. 

In addition to this, living in Victoria, there is a huge issue when breeding for tactical roles in being able to actually test and compete to prove a dogs ability. This is due to the strict regulations around the activities associated with those roles (I.e. bite work).

So I suppose I would like to know, for working dog breeders, how breeders of working dogs are testing their dogs abilities? And for confirmation oriented breeders, how much emphasis is being put toward confirmation over working ability.

And lastly, which of these do people find to be the most important factor when it comes to breeding?

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Rebanne   

good conformation is a must because without it a dog will break down much more quickly/seriously. Not much good have a very keen/good working dog that can't see out a days work.

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I breed working Springers - conformation (moderate not extreme), health, working ability and temperament is critical but coat is not, except that I would rather it was short. Markings don’t matter in the long run but I do have my personal preferences. My girls compete in agility and retrieving trials and are worked on game. Stud dogs are often pets but you can get a sense of their work ethic a mile away. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. All the pups I’ve bred have very consistent work ethics although physically they vary quite a bit.  
 

In the end it’s a balance - I am very honest about my girls’ strengths and weaknesses and I look for moderate stud dogs who complement them. 

Edited by The Spotted Devil
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Stwve   
3 hours ago, Rebanne said:

good conformation is a must because without it a dog will break down much more quickly/seriously. Not much good have a very keen/good working dog that can't see out a days work.

I don't fully know the regulations around confirmation. Does that include hip and elbow scores? If confirmation is about overall health of the dog then external appearance should definitely not be the only criteria. Taking the GSD as a prime example. A show line shepherd could win for confirmation, but could have terrible hips and elbows which would quickly fail in the working environment. 

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moosmum   
4 hours ago, Rebanne said:

good conformation is a must because without it a dog will break down much more quickly/seriously. Not much good have a very keen/good working dog that can't see out a days work.

Yes. But the standard,  as interpreted and represented  in the show ring is often not based on the realities of a working life.

 

I speak for myself, Not the majority of people on here.

I see it that any dog bred should be bred with a purpose in mind, from dogs who respond well to that purpose,  in the environments they will be meant  to  work in.  

In evolutionary terms, Dogs meeting the needs and expectations of their environment(s). So increasing environments where they have a place..

 

The dogs purpose might be the show ring, sheep trials or stock truck, agility, bite sports or apartment companion, personal protection kids companion or field trials.

If there is an acceptable demand for for dogs that meet  certain needs, and it can be met responsibly, then a good breeder does so to the best of their abilities, should be rewarded  and encouraged to do better,  If other breeders have insight  into how they could.

 

If its the only environment worth breeding for, The show/breed standards can only  limit the diversity a dogs purpose can present. The dogs ability to respond to any other purpose (environmental expectations) will be reduced to that very limited measure of a dogs worth set out in its breed standard.

Evolutionary biology demands that result.

 

Adherence to the expectations of a pedigree breeders environment limits the potential of any  direction other than that.

 

 

Edited by moosmum
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Dogsfevr   

The simple answer is what ever floats one boat .

 

There are plenty of working dogs that no longer resemble there breed ,working dog doesn’t mean healthier nor is it a guarantee of better hips,elbows,mouths etc .Any half decent working breeder still tests for health issues and removes issue dogs .

 

Many working line breeders don’t care on retaining the dogs original look just focused on how it performs .I certainly know in one of my breeds that some diehard working lines are impossible to reconize and couldn’t hunt for original purpose as there too small and would be incapable of carrying a heft bird through Moore’s,bogs without breaking down but they suit the hunters who work different game and on different terrain to current times 

No side is better  both sides have there pros and cons .

 

For many working aspects terrain and the way they do there job in current times may have changed dramatically to what the original breed standard asked for so they have changed how dogs are breed .

 

 

Show lines doesn’t mean useless either ,plenty can still do the job and is ashame so many seem to knock them down .

 

Styles of working is always a hot topic ,some exTreme working lines will claim there extreme high drive to the point of having to be managed is  breed correct when it isn’t.

 

infact I owned a showline GSD ,we also had a exGerman army handler at our place for his job who watched my boy just being his pet self in the backyard and was so impressed by his old school work ethic ,he said a trait being breed out of the modern working line for new current expectations ..

 

Considering in Australia working many breeds true to there history is impossible to work to there job then breeding dogs that can sanely and safely live in society is just as important 

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moosmum   

It should come down to what you want in a dog, how easy it is to find what you want, and if you have found it, is it worth trying to keep and hopefully improve on.

Would the results responsibly meet a demand, or are they already met better?

Whats in it for the dogs? Will they love how they will live?

 

Great questions in the O.P!

 

 

 

Edited by moosmum

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Rebanne   
5 hours ago, Stwve said:

I don't fully know the regulations around confirmation. Does that include hip and elbow scores? If confirmation is about overall health of the dog then external appearance should definitely not be the only criteria. Taking the GSD as a prime example. A show line shepherd could win for confirmation, but could have terrible hips and elbows which would quickly fail in the working environment. 

I guessed you were talking about GSD's.

 

I was talking purely good conformation, the way the whole package comes together, how every joint works in partnership etc. No good having good hips and elbows if the toes are crap or going blind from PRA. Plenty of working bred dogs can't work. Ask any farmer how many they have shot over the years.

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With Labradors there's a long tradition of working towards a 'dual purpose' dog.  That's show + work.  Some, though not all, leading Labrador breeders take this very seriously. It's made confusing because 'work' for a Labbie can mean assistance dog work, sniffer dog work, or dock diving as well as retrieving.  However, if you look around, you can still find Ch and BIS Labs who retrieve, either competitively, or as hunting companions, and breeders invest in importing dogs (often from Scandinavia) with strong dual purpose credentials. 

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BDJ   

The showring conversation has been going on for decades - 'look' v 'what the breed was originally bred for'.

 

Many, many moons ago (25-30 years) I showed shetland sheepdogs.  Had a bitch that was sound as a bell with the most amazing movement, great outline, fantastic attitude, lots of positives.  BUT, she had two faults -  heavy ears (not out of standard, but too heavy) and not the most appealing markings.  Her head was good overall, and her ears weren't horrible, but were heavy.   She titled easily, won her class at the Royal, won many BIGs etc, but if the judge was looking for the 'pretty, glamour puff', then my girl was probably not their cup of tea.

 

I remember one show in particular - the judge took ages to award challenge - it was between me and another bitch.  The other bitch was a 'chocolate box sheltie'.  Sweet expression, gorgeous colour, great coat etc - but could not move out of sight on a black night.  It was around the ring, stack, around the ring, stack (multiple times).  He then gave it to the other bitch (oh well, we won lots, but got beaten lots - that's showing).    BUT - he made a fool out of himself (in my eyes) in two ways.  (A) - he gave it to the other bitch whilst we were moving (should have done it when we were lined up) and (B) when he gave me reserve he said 'sorry, I had to weigh up what was the bigger issue - ears or movement).

 

Again, I had zero issues being beaten - she was a lovely bitch overall.   What it did demonstrate to me was that the fundamental purpose of the breed was not a consideration (at least in that case :laugh:)

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Scratch   

Try convincing the farmer with a ‘short coat border collie’ who works hard daily and saves him the wages of several men, that his dog is less worthy than the show winning pedigree border collie, and vice versa...... All dogs have value in the big picture.
 

Before the introduction of conFORMation dog shows, domestic dogs were bred almost exclusively for purpose. And more often than not, practiced their purpose. The look of the dog was secondary to what the dog could do, and even when ‘looks’ we’re taken into account, preferences were usually based on the terrain the dog was expected to work in and how. 
 

as Conformation dog shows rose in popularity, that drove down diversity by its very nature. the concept of uniformity and purity has been a disaster for domestic dogs. 
Anyone who thinks  dividing and limiting gene pools towards a dead end goal is a good thing for dogs, has their heads in a strange place. 
 

the very nature of the ‘working v show lines’ is so divisive and does dogs no good. Within breeds, I doubt breeding exclusively towards either goal is a great thing. 
 

It seems all the pedigree conformation system has done for dogs is divide, limit, reduce....

In days gone by, I doubt Fred would have cared if Dave’s Labrador had white feet. Dave probably would have watched Fred’s dog and if Fred’s dog had some ability that Dave thought could enhance his own dogs, blokes would have got the dogs together to see what the results were. Maybe they gained some desirable traits, maybe they didn’t. Because they were using the dogs for a purpose they could nut that out pretty quickly and decide their next move. Meanwhile, Mark from a few districts over might have heard about those pups, that were a bit short on leg and a bit too flashy in their marking for the purpose that Fred and Dave needed, but reckoned they might be just the ticket for his slightly different terrain. Once working his new pups, Mark worked out they were lacking in the scenting department for his needs, but decided to take a chance crossing one out to his best little spaniel, and managed to gain the best working dogs he ever had! ( for his purposes) 

 

The idea of conformity & purity  in dogs is the biggest disease we have bestowed on ‘mans best friend’ and no amount of health testing can undo what driving toward that end has done, whilst ever we still drive in that direction. 

 

Edited by Scratch
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asal   

Its remarkable how few have noticed the 'show' scene is pretty new actually.

 

As Scratch pointed out, the show scene has done exactly that.

 

limited gene pool and focused on too few traits to the detriment of the entire animal.

 

Has morphed entire breeds into something else all in the name of a blue ribbon. The King Charles Spaniel was once the Cavalier King Charles in appearance.  Until it was decided to recreate the dogs in King Charles paintings.  

Without the paintings who would have guessed what they once were.

 

so many people have been asking for decades, why?

so many posts with Photos of  champions some 80 years ago that look nothing like the breed today. The ability to reinterpret a standard is incredible when its laid out in photos.

 

 

its not just the dog world that is seeing this .

 

My Uncle bred champion Persians in the 1950's , today the only place you can find them is roaming the streets as a feral or on old chocolate boxes. Now they have no muzzle, huge eyes and no tear ducts. Well not usable ones anyway.

 

The show scene seems to make people forget the living work of art they are creating is a LIVE animal who would like to be able to breathe without veterinary intervention. breed without veterinary intervention and be able to move and live without pain.

 

the show scene does not take that into account.

 

So many breeds are so short faced they need surgery to breathe or suffocate on a hot day.

 

legs so badly angled are arthritic by 7, in a horse with a normal lifespan of 20 or more that's pretty horrific to say the least. but these are bred and sold for millions in america, aka halter bred QH's

 

https://equineink.com/2011/04/24/have-halter-horses-become-the-bodybuilders-of-the-equine-world/

 

 

 

Pity those who want to create works of art, dont restrict themselves to morphing clay or bronze instead of living creatures.

 

 

 

 

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Scratch   

Yes Asal, I use the example of our ‘ beloved’ Australian breeds to demonstrate this. EVERY single Australian breed could only have existed in its current form since, well, since Australia began! And in all of those breeds I can think of, none of them ran off a ship in the form we know them today. They’ve all become what we know them to be today, since Australia was settled. Most recently, the Tenterfield Terrier, our newest ‘breed’ .

 

I feel a little bit ragey when I see discussions about so called designer dogs. Pedigree show people get their knickers all mixed up decrying these dogs. But, in reality, I see new breeds and types emerging. Contemporary dogs bred for contemporary purpose. Just like the old days when the breeds we know and hold close today, we’re being developed, these contemporary ‘breeds’ don’t just hatch out of an egg. They take generations to emerge. We just happen to be the generations witnessing this transition, as I’m sure, in fact hope, that generations to come, will be able to witness the emergence of new dogs to suit their time and purpose. Because things change, and that is ok!! 

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ish   

In GSD specialty showing, to compete in the open class and be eligible for Excellent (the top) gradings and medals, there is a requirement for both a hip and elbow pass under the GSDCA scheme as well as breed survey, which is an assessment of breed worth including a very basic temperament test. 
 

Ive been involved in show line GSD for 20 years, and in the last 12 months have added 2 working line dogs to my family. They’re fantastic dogs and I couldn’t be happier with them, but I’ve also owned some terrific show line dogs. A good dog is a good dog. There’s people breeding good and bad in both directions. 

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Dogsfevr   
21 hours ago, Stwve said:

I don't fully know the regulations around confirmation. Does that include hip and elbow scores? If confirmation is about overall health of the dog then external appearance should definitely not be the only criteria. Taking the GSD as a prime example. A show line shepherd could win for confirmation, but could have terrible hips and elbows which would quickly fail in the working environment. 

The regulations is simple and  how much morals a breeder has full stop.

Plenty of working breeders register under the ANKC banner so they follow the same rules for registering pups..

Plenty of working/showline breeders are members of there GSD associations and need to meet there testing standard for letters after there names .

If a working line breeder belongs to another organisation then they would meet what rules they have in place or that org may have no requirements.

The key factor is a breeder deciding after health testing what scores or results they consider there personal cut off for breeding purpose .

i know of dogs who have worked at the highest level with very average hips .I know dogs who have done agility at the highest level with average hips .

its not that cut and dry 

 

If a working line breeder is not a member of anything and just breeds they have no rules to follow or testing requirements .

This applies to anyone breeding whether it be Show,working or boutique ( the new it word)

 

At the end of the day both sides have to safely be able to place the dogs they have bred into the public world for what ever task they deem fit for .Pet,working,therapy,dog sports,show but at the end of the day a dog still needs to be sane to live happily

 

In my breed and the Gundog group particularly in Europe working line breeders are not exactly treasured especially with there throw away or dump it attitude .

So there either not being breed correctly to work or there being so over worked they still break down but the dump rate and neglect rate is appallingly high.

So many end up in rescues and sent to the UK with all sorts of health and behavioural,issues.

 

 

How dogs live in society has changed ,in Australia being able to do fit for function activities is very limited .

 

Just like humans my ancestors my have stood in the river banging clothes to wash them ,know I we use a washing machine .

 

For some breeds drought conditions has made a working season totally unknown and when a working season is over then it’s looking at the alternatives available .

 

Working/Hunting conditions have changed from its original purpose most breeds are know multi purpose dogs finding new roles in life with new expectations in society .

At one stage people owned the all round GSD to be family,guard and great companion.

People know use security devices over dogs 

 

BUT at the end of the day if your going to breed then those puppies need to fit into the world and with what can be offered so for some adapting drive ,ease to live with is just as important whilst still keeping the whole package.

.

I think there are many breeds where showlines/working line or dual purpose has worked amazingly well ,some breed have small groups who have deviated terribly for no betterment .

I would love to utilize my dogs naturally working ability more but the amount of training & dedication is often let down by conditions on the day with cancellations of trials .

I would love some of the US methods in working aptitude tests or basic work titles so even if your not a diehard worker you can still do & title with the basics ,
Even for one of our other previous breeds the  barn hunt tests would be awesome but that wont happen in Australia .
The one thing i love about watching many of the dogs on Westminster is the dogs who have so many varying titles outside showing .
I now the diehard working people are often vocal saying its useless yadda yadda which i think shows the One shouldn't live in a glasshouse approach but gaining extra titles in some countries is logistically & available so much easier although lets be real even the US is facing the animal rights movement which will make working titles or doing what they where bred too do so much harder



 

 

Edited by Dogsfevr
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moosmum   
4 hours ago, ish said:

 A good dog is a good dog. There’s people breeding good and bad in both directions. 

Yes. 

And there always will be because you can't legislate away fallibility or ignorance. You can't legislate that all people who breed will understand every situation they encounter. 

Or that standard  legislative solutions are always the best practical ones.

 

Dividing and splitting the breeds though doesn't contribute to their diversity or versatility. Its a mirror of the original problem. A different emphasis so a different manifestation. 

Ring sports become their show ring and pedigree is used to reduce genetic selection choices to the standard response. Predictable states. 

Forgetting that environment and expectations are NOT predictable or  static  without entropy.

 

Aiming for predictability, or  uniform standards of acceptability,  reduces options of acceptable genetic response  by people who must  disregard their unique perspectives to achieve them.

Predictability does not adapt to conditions, it depends on them,  demands them against the laws of a healthy environment.

It decreases modes of inheritance into a state or condition.

 

Reliability on other hand, allows for the demands and expectations of environment.  By providing a direction to move towards, rather than a  state to achieve.

It increases modes of inheritance towards a purpose,  Regardless of the "states" or conditions  endured.

One is evolution, following a genetic direction.

The other is entropy,   fixed and  unable to evolve in any direction not contained in its own state of being.

 

No standard/state can be universally held  and still allow diversity or response beyond that state.

 

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Stwve   

Thank you very much to all who responded. Everyone has provided great insites and this gives me a lot to think about. I believe my philosophy leans toward a middle ground between confirmation, working ability and a general ability to live in our current society. Being in the training industry, I have seen the limitations of breeding strictly to create high intensity working dogs, and have also been shocked by the knowledge that a particular dog does well in a show, considering their demeanor and physical characteristics.

All in all, it seems that to be a quality breeder, one must be passionate about the dogs and be striving for matches to create specimens that best suit their trade. 

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moosmum   
21 hours ago, Dogsfevr said:

 

 

If a working line breeder is not a member of anything and just breeds they have no rules to follow or testing requirements .

This applies to anyone breeding whether it be Show,working or boutique ( the new it word)

 

I disagree with this.

Its subjective to the person breeding,  not the organisations demands of how they should be doing it.

 

For non affiliated breeders its up to the buyer to question testing and methodology of the breeder. The buyer must understand their own responsibility to ensure they are taking on a dog they feel confident they are equipt to manage. Its the breeders responsibility to ensure they have confidence in the buyers ability to manage  the welfare of the dog. 

 

In the case of affiliated breeders, we have a problem with buyers encouraged to make assumptions of suitability based on the organisations P.R and mission statements, and not the individuals breeders ability or success in  representing them in a way that is going to be meaningful to the buyer.

Breeders too are more likely to make assumptions of  buyers who support the conditions of their organisation in their choices.

 

The responsibility to under stand the diversity of breeders and/or buyers does apply to every one breeding or buying.

It has less to do with affiliation to an organisation than the personal responsibility of individuals.

 

Organisations that promote conditions to achieve rather than  direction to aim ,  tend to erode responsibility to Dogs  by redirecting it to achieving and maintaining limited conditions that may or may not suit an individual perspective or value. The organisation has 'decided' the value lies the conditions they have set in place, and less from the perspective of the  individual dog or breeder.

 

When responsibility is directed towards  maintaining conditions,  instead of exceeding them,  thats faith, not science.

Responsibility is assigned to the organisation.  You are no longer responding to the organisation as the environment it is, but as an entity/identity in its own right.

 

 

 

Edited by moosmum
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Dogsfevr   
5 hours ago, moosmum said:

I disagree with this.

Its subjective to the person breeding,  not the organisations demands of how they should be doing it.

 

For non affiliated breeders its up to the buyer to question testing and methodology of the breeder. The buyer must understand their own responsibility to ensure they are taking on a dog they feel confident they are equipt to manage. Its the breeders responsibility to ensure they have confidence in the buyers ability to manage  the welfare of the dog. 

 

In the case of affiliated breeders, we have a problem with buyers encouraged to make assumptions of suitability based on the organisations P.R and mission statements, and not the individuals breeders ability or success in  representing them in a way that is going to be meaningful to the buyer.

Breeders too are more likely to make assumptions of  buyers who support the conditions of their organisation in their choices.

 

The responsibility to under stand the diversity of breeders and/or buyers does apply to every one breeding or buying.

It has less to do with affiliation to an organisation than the personal responsibility of individuals.

 

Organisations that promote conditions to achieve rather than  direction to aim ,  tend to erode responsibility to Dogs  by redirecting it to achieving and maintaining limited conditions that may or may not suit an individual perspective or value. The organisation has 'decided' the value lies the conditions they have set in place, and less from the perspective of the  individual dog or breeder.

 

When responsibility is directed towards  maintaining conditions,  instead of exceeding them,  thats faith, not science.

Responsibility is assigned to the organisation.  You are no longer responding to the organisation as the environment it is, but as an entity/identity in its own right.

 

 

 

You lost me & would have lost any pet owner in the process .
 

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moosmum   
On 12/02/2020 at 6:03 PM, Dogsfevr said:

You lost me & would have lost any pet owner in the process .
 

Yeah, fair call.

 

Thing is, organisations are environments. Just sets of conditions set up by people to serve a purpose. For Pedigree dog breeders, an organisation to record a dogs history, to ensure its available to reference in breeding decisions.

Membership to an organisation doesn't ensure responsibility.

The rules a member is expected to follow are agreed by all membership and more generaly understood by  buyers.

But they don't replace responsibility as individuals and thats what tends to happen.

 

You can't say an unaffliated breeder has no rules to follow or testing requirements. You can't know that with out doing your research on that individual. Asking the sort of questions that breeders keep telling us are so important when dealing with pedigree breeders. You need to understand the individual you are dealing with. A sign of a  responsible buyer.

 

Having rules to follow and the testing requirements of an organisation to reference takes some of the work out of that. Once you know the rules and testing requirements of the organisation you understand those are the same for all members of the organisation. 

 

And that assumption tends to reduce the responsibility of buyers to research the individual  breeder they are dealing with. The organisation tends to replace the individual in peoples minds.

 

When responsibility declines,  the organisation is more likely to react by imposing more conditions on its membership. And over time in evolutionary terms, that results in even more decline in responsibility.

 

Accepting  a uniform set of conditions as 'standard' in a membership doesn't make people more responsible.  It imposes conditions to substitute for  responsibility . -    

 

Edited by moosmum
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